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Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616)

Family which ruled over Japan from 1600 to 1867. The most important member of the clan was Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616), who emerged as the victor of the late Warring States period which ravaged Japan from 1467 to 1576. Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi had pacified and unified Japan. When Hideyoshi died in 1598, his infant son was officially to become shōgun, but Ieyasu, the most powerful daimyō, seized power and established a hereditary shōgunate based in the newly founded Edo, far from the intrigues of Kyōto.

To ascertain his sucession, Ieyasu retired and let his son become shōgun, although he remained the power behind the scenes. His grandson Iemitsu built the magnificient Tōshōgū mausoleum in Nikkō to immortalize Ieyasu.

The Tokugawa family was to rule for over two and a half century over Japan, in what is one of the most peaceful, if repressive, period of its history. The shōgunate collapse soon after US Commodore Perry forced Japan to open its port to international trade in 1853. A rebellion of opportunist Imperilaists started in the daimyō domains of Satsuma, in Southern Kyūshū, and Chōshū in Western Honshu, eventually brought the restoration of imperial power and the demise of the Shōgunate in 1867. The period between 1853 and 1867 is known as Bakumatsu.

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